By M D Nalapat
DAYS after the terror attack on Mumbai that took place on 26-28 November 2008, this columnist was informed by elements in the intelligence community that the operation had been conducted by the ISI, and that serving—in addition to retired—officers of the ISI and other military formations in Pakistan had provided the training and logistics for the youths recruited to carry out the attack. The US-approved Chief of Army Staff, Pervez Ashfaq Kayani, had demanded of the ISI that the organisation “do something” to reduce the rate of growth of the Indian economy. In particular, Kayani wanted to reduce the growing commerce between India and the US-EU combine.
The ISI's reply was the Mumbai terror attack, which was carried out in collusion with elements in the Maharashtra establishment and with the help of sleeper cells within the hotel industry that had been activated in the months prior to the assault. That there was high-level complicity in the 26-28/11 attack became clear when none of the many leads that pointed to the involvement of local Al Qaeda-ISI supporters was ever followed up.
A check of flight records would have shown the number of visits made by friends and relatives of senior police and other officials in Maharashtra to Dubai and London (the two locations favoured by the ISI for meetings with their agents in India). None of this data was ever examined. Indeed, despite clear evidence that the ISI was behind the attack, incoming Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram meekly followed the Washington line (that the Pakistan state was not involved) and the Maino line (that there was zero local involvement in the planning and execution of the crime. It was only after the Obama administration gave permission to Chidambaram via the Headley confession that the Home Minister became more outspoken about the ISI hand. In contrast, on December3, 2008 itself and subsequently, this columnist revealed details about ISI involvement in his column in www.upiasia.com and elsewhere, to indifference from the Union Home Ministry which then—as now—was (and is) more intent on identifying and taking action against threats to the primacy of Sonia Gandhi than it is about national security.
It must, however, be admitted that Chidambaram has shown more class than his predecessor Shivraj Patil in his genuflection before the Mainos. The hapless Patil would be woken up at odd hours and ordered to fix up a programme in non-descript locations within the country, so that Sonia Maino could “accompany” him in his special aircraft.The reality—as everyone knew but none in the “free” media reported—was that Patil's only role was to act as a peon dancing attendance on the Madame as she burnt through the national exchequer on her perambulations.These days, more than the state, it is individual corporate houses that have the honour of paying for the flying visits of "Madame" and her relatives, no doubt in exchange for goodwill that will come in handy in an administration where only Manmohan Singh is loyal to the PM, all the others in the team reporting to the UPA Chairperson.
Chidambaram has demonstrated his fealty to the Maino agenda by seeking to ensure that the regulatory environment in India be so toxic that growth slows to the “Nehru Rate of Growth” of 2.5 per cent per annum in place of the 12-15 per cent that the country is capable of. The Union Home Ministry has a simple solution for the security issues plaguing the country. If some terrorists use mobile phones, make it a nightmare to get a mobile phone connection. If the internet is occasionally being misused for commiting acts of terror, deny millions of Indians access. It is no accident that internet speeds have slowed and mobile services have become worse and more expensive since Chidambaram took over as Home Minister in 2008. Every facet of a modern economy (such as freedom of movement and assembly) is being constricted by regulations crafted by the Union Home Ministry on the direction of Chidambaram (who himself follows the orders of "Madame" in a way that has earned her trust).
Not that this is a surprise. It was during Chidambaram’s turn in the Union Finance Ministry (2004-8) that all manner of dubious financial entities from NATO countries were enabled to trade in India, and even buy up Indian entities (although concealing such takeovers by retaining the old name and logo). Because of the free pass given by Chidambaram to the very entities that collectively caused the 2008 international financial collapse, these have made billions of dollars in hidden and stated profits from their operations on India, mostly through speculation in commodities that are essential to the common man.
Because of corporate rivalry aimed mainly at derailing Ratan Tata, the Niira Radia tapes got released.The individual within the government who connived at the release of the Radia tapes enjoys the confidence of a charming lady who has great sway within the Union Finance Ministry, and has given the lucky official yet another extension of his many services to “Madame 2” and The Madame herself.
Because of an investigation into fraud launched by the UK authorities against a fly-by-night company, the CWG scam came to light. And by a fortuitious bit of inadvertent publicity, the Hassan Ali scandal got exposed. As yet, of course, no one has been told of the senior politicians who have been given largesse by another scamster, Abdul Karim Telgi. The names include many prominent in both the ruling as well as opposition parties, which is why they are still being kept as hidden as the names of the Big Fish who used Hassan Ali to secrete funds abroad. More than Income-tax, more than the Enforcement Directorate, what is needed is for the Research & Analysis Wing of the Cabinet Secretariat to interrogate Hassan Ali, for the channels that he has used to spirit cash abroad are the same as those used by enemies of India to plan attacks on this country.
When Anna Hazare gets over the thrill of being a celebrity, he needs to ask why there has thus far been only one “Radia tape”, when the Income-tax department has hundreds of recordings that contain information even more damaging to the security of the country than the tapes that were leaked on behalf of a powerful corporate. He should ask that any department of the government that keeps such information hidden from the public should be subject to criminal prosecution. Of course, in Maino Bharat Mahan, it is those who disseminated the leaked Radia tapes who were subject to harassment, not the many officials hiding away crucial information about crimes committed by VVIPs. This country needs at least a hundred “Radia tapes” to get leaked, and it calls for at least a dozen Hassan Alis to be questioned and prosecuted. What is taking place now—and that too under the prodding of the magnificent Supreme Court bench of Justices JS Singhvi and Ashok Kumar Ganguly—is just the tip of the mountain of corruption that defines governance in India.
Those who loot the exchequer, those who secrete vast sums of money abroad, are the support network for the followers in India of Osama bin Laden. Because of their access to narcotics cash and to the havala channels used in the narco trade, these facilitators of terrorism in India have access to the powerful in not simply the government or political parties, but in the media as well.
Rather than choke transparency the way Chidambaram is seeking to do, rather than cover up the way Pranab Mukherjee seems determined to do, there is need for whistle-blowers within the system to make public the facts in their possession about wrong-doing. Those within the different wings of government who disclose such facts—even anonymously—would be committing a great public service. Those in banking and financial institutions who (secretly) report on the dubious transactions of the powerful are doing immense good to the nation by their courage.
The Network of Corruption within India is the biggest facilitator of the Network of Terror. Those who escaped accountability for their involvement in the Mumbai attack will be gearing up for the next big strike. Each citizen needs to know that he or she must expose to the people facts that come to their attention about graft and misfeasance. India is a country where the Chief Minister of a big state parked his funds with a gangster residing in Dubai and Karachi. As yet the MEA has not questioned the Dubai authorities about why they are conniving at the activities of this gangster by giving him shelter. Is the MEA’s silence because the gangster is close to two members of the Union Cabinet?
There is enough that this known to the agencies of government about the network of greed that is selling the country out.Those at the top are covering up such crimes. Those at other levels need to come forward and speak out, so that India may be saved from a fresh millenium of slavery.